DETROIT (WJBK) - It's been almost one month since a man opened fire on two Detroit Police Officers. One was shot in the neck, the other was hit in the ankle and upper body. A month later, the two brave officers are telling their story to FOX 2.
Tonight the brave police officers exclusively tell FOX 2's Erika Erickson what happened that night. Before Wednesday, police had not identified the two officers. They're still healing from their injuries when they were attacked on March 15 during a shootout in Detroit.
Police Officers Benjamin Atkinson and James Kissleburg were conducting a narcotics investigation near Ash and Tillmon on the city's west side when they were both shot. Kissleburg took a bullet to the neck while Atkinson was hit twice in the upper torso and in the ankle. The Kevlar vest is being credited with saving his life.
Kissleburg is a 19-year veteran of the Detroit Police force, while Atkinson has been a Detroit Police officer for four years. Both are expected to recover from their injuries.
"I wouldn't be here without him," Kissleburg said. "Literally (Benjamin Atkinson) saved my life."
Kissleburg and Atkinson, partners on and off for two years in the 3rd Precinct say the terrifying night of March 15 replays in their mind.
"One of the, little bit of a scary moment," Atkinson said. "Hate to say it, but it was."
The man suspected of shooting Atkinson and Kissleburg has been identifed as Raymond Durham. The 60-year-old man was arrested the night of the shooting as the two police officers were conducting a narcotics investigation. The man pulled out a gun and fired before the officers returned fire, Police Chief James Craig said.
The team approached Durham, 60, on Tillmon and Ash at 8:15 that night and they say he quickly pulled out a gun and began firing at both of them.
"Your heart's beating, you're worried about 100 things because ... even now," Atkinson said.
According to Craig, Durham is also suspected of shooting and killing Wayne State Police Sergeant Collin Rose last fall. He confirmed that DNA from both scenes matched Durham.
Kissleburg and Atkinson say within seconds they were hit, Atkinson in the leg and bullets also hit his chest.
"It could have ended badly," Kissleburg said. "But thank the Lord that we always wear our vests, that protected me and was able to keep me safe and keep me in the fight."
FOX 2: "Were you worried about James?"
"Yes," Atkinson said. "Before me. I tell him now before my life, I was worried about my partner."
Kissleburg says a bullet hit his jaw and went toward his spine. Another bullet hit his left shoulder, then lodged into his neck.
"I woke up just as I was hitting the ground," Kissleburg said. "And I was actually paralyzed. I couldn't move."
Kissleburg says he felt helpless thinking of his partner, then spotting Durham.
"He walked towards me and I just closed my eyes because I was afraid he would shoot me again," he said. "I closed my eyes and played dead. He reloaded behind me."
As he heard that, Kissleburg said he began praying.
"I said, 'Let me see my family one more time,'" he said.
As Kissleburg is out of work at least a year, most days he is barely able to move.
Atkinson looks forward to the day he can walk again. They both are just grateful to be alive.
"There's no doubt in my mind if someone else were to encounter him, or if I would have had another partner besides Ben, we'd be dead," Kissleburg said. "Someone else would be dead."
Sources have told FOX 2 that DNA was found on a flashlight, gloves, and a hat where Rose was killed in November.
The same type of gun was used in both shootings, a .38 revolver, police confirmed. Michigan State Police are still working to determine if it is the same gun used in both shootings.
Durham was charged in late March with the shooting of the two officers. A mental exam has been ordered. He has not been charged for the murder of Sgt. Rose.
A benefit is set for April 14th at Tony V's Tavern in Detroit. A $20 donation gets you entered into a 50/50 drawing and an auction. It also covers your pizza and pop. All donations with go to cover bills and recovery costs. CLICK HERE to email for more information.
Both officers say while that night greatly impacted their lives, they would not change a thing.
I just want to leave place in the world a little better than when I found it," Kissleburg said. "Just to know I can help people out."
"I love my job," Atkinson said. "I love it. This is just one of those things that happened during my job. Would I do it all over, absolutley. I would not change a thing."
RELATED: Mobile users CLICK HERE to learn more about the charity benefit for the two wounded officers.